How The Book Is Going So Far

Jose Vilson Jose

People often ask me how I do everything I do, especially surrounding my book.

I can’t reveal it all, but even my typical Saturdays aren’t that typical.

Yesterday, I took a three-hour National Board exam, unprepared due to circumstances beyond my control. Then again, everyone told me this test should be no sweat because it’s everything that I’ve been doing since I first started teaching. Except that it wasn’t. I can’t say more because Pearson would have me redact this whole paragraph I signed a non-disclosure agreement, so there is that. However, I spent the better part of three hours looking at a timer and scribbling down as much as I could without my hand falling off.

I’ve been favoring my left hand since.

Shortly after staring at a computer for three hours, I started to explore some of the bookstores in Lower Manhattan because I’m a glutton for punishment. Barnes and Noble on 44th and 5th? No books. McNally Jackson in SoHo? No books either. I should have taken a hint from the weather because, while everyone else took shelter under umbrellas and coffee shops, I was running around looking to see if a few bookstores had my books. Even though I already had a thousand plus, I couldn’t be satisfied with only a thousand sold.

Clearly, if everyone couldn’t see my genius, what was wrong with them? Ugh!

These are the moments that keep me humble. It’s super-easy to doubt myself and see the shelves without my book as a sign of failure of my writing and not the huge machine behind other books. Then it hit me. Concurrent with this weekend was Left Forum, a huge conference for progressive organizers, laborers, and like-minded thinkers from all across North America. To that end, my publisher, Haymarket Books would be there, and even took a tall stack of books with my names on them.

I needed to go where my people would go.

I planned on staying an hour or two, but ended up staying three, having conversations about our current state of education, hanging with friends from different circles, and signing my books for onlookers and fans alike. That plus the daily tags on Facebook of someone’s copy of my book, and getting listed with the likes of Rebecca Walker and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie at The Root, all is right with the world again. It’s as if my people are telling me this unconventional path I’ve taken towards getting published will continue to be so.

Maybe Barnes and Noble won’t carry the books in their stores. But the people will in their hands. Right where my book belongs.